Arsene Wenger has still not made up his mind on whether to stay at Arsenal next season, high-level sources reveal

Ian Wright claimed on radio that Wenger told him he is “coming to the end” of his time in charge, but high-level sources at the club remain completely in the dark

Miguel Delaney
Friday 10 February 2017 22:27 GMT
Wenger's staff have little idea whether the Frenchman is planning on quitting or not
Wenger's staff have little idea whether the Frenchman is planning on quitting or not (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger has still not made up his mind on whether he will stay at Arsenal next season, high-level sources close to the 67-year-old have told The Independent, after former player Ian Wright sensationally revealed on radio that the French manager is openly talking about “coming to the end” for the first time.

It is understood that virtually everyone who works with Wenger on an everyday basis - from his immediate staff to those who do so on an individual outside the club - are completely in the dark about what he will do next, as he has given little indication of what he is thinking in terms of signing the new two-year contract offered.

That alone has led many around him to fear that he could finally walk away at the end of this campaign, and also make Wright’s comments all the more notable. They mark a clear departure from previous moments of indecision, because he has so outwardly brought up the idea of “the end”.

Is Wenger approaching the end of his Arsenal reign? 

 Is Wenger approaching the end of his Arsenal reign? 

Speaking on BBC Radio5 Live, Wright said: "I was with the boss last night and if I’m going to be totally honest I get the impression that that’s it. I genuinely believe – I was with him for a few hours last night and he didn’t exactly tell me that he’s leaving at the end of the season – but you get the impression looking at him that that’s it. I think that’s it. He actually mentioned when he was talking last night that he’s coming to the end. And I’ve never heard him say that before.”

It has been much the same for those who work closest with Wenger, who have never heard him utter such words. At the same time, some sources preached caution, pointing to how he has been in similar situations before only to ultimately stay. The Arsenal manager is understood to have endured similar doubt in spring last season - and did consider the idea of going - when his side’s title challenge went off the rails, only for his conviction to remain to be bolstered as results improved again towards the end of the campaign.

One issue clouding all this is that Wenger is said to be capable of “moodiness” in this regard, with his outlook at this point almost completely influenced by the latest results. Those close to him say it can change from game to game, and there has been a radical departure from last week. In that sense, two successive defeats to Watford and Chelsea for a manager who is said to be “tormented” by defeats - amid a period where he is facing more questioning than ever before - were always going to have a pronounced effect on his attitude.

At the same time, some close to Wenger maintain that his obsession with both the game and Arsenal is such that, when it comes right down to it and he has to contemplate doing something else, he will again decide to remain.

The club have nevertheless start to make natural contingency plans, and have had intermediaries begin to sound out potential candidates on their behalf. It is understood that the most progress has so far been made with Thomas Tuchel of Borussia Dortmund and, in particular, Juventus’ Max Allegri.

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